• Friday, April 19, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Young Business Lawyer: Women’s Month Edition

20230309_151425_0000

In celebration of Women’s Month this March, BusinessDay will feature four young female lawyers who have distinguished themselves. Our first young female lawyer of the month is Prada Uzodimma. In this interview with Prada, she shares her passion, experience and progress as a lawyer.

Full name: Prada O. Uzodimma
Organisation: Principle Legal Consult
Area of Practice: Maritime Law, Core Litigation, Civil/Corporate and Commercial Law
Years of Experience: 5 Years

Professional Summary
Prada Uzodimma is an enthusiastic and experienced legal practitioner who has garnished a wealth of legal knowledge and experience over the years. She has an LL.B from the University of Surrey and an LL.M in Maritime Law from the University of Southampton, both in the United Kingdom.

Prada is a humanitarian, who frequents various television programs to educate the public on their human and legal rights. She also represents individuals and corporations in contract and marine transactions. Having handled cases in various jurisdictions and with an array of legal awards, Prada Uzodimma has distinguished herself amongst her peers.
She was part of the team that won the heavily contested and celebrated Imo State Gubernatorial Election Petition at the Supreme Court. She was part of the team that recovered 2 Billion Naira Debt in favour of a major client. Prada is also passionate about empowering women and young aspiring lawyers, hence the launch of the Prada Uzodimma Law School Scholarship Grant (PUSG), initiated to ease the difficulties for indigent aspiring young lawyers. She is also the Co-Founder of The Ability Life Initiative, a foundation engineered to bridge the gap for persons with disabilities.

Read also: IWD: Gender equality beneficial to businesses that are inclusive — Naomi Nwokolo

Four Questions with Prada
What have been some of the most rewarding moments in your legal career so far?
The rewards for me are not even when I am successful in a case after years of intense litigation, suspense and fighting in what we all know as a precarious justice system. My rewards come back in the form of smiles and a re-ignition of hope when my indigent pro bono clients finally feel that the system works for them and not against them. My biggest reward came back in the form of a tight hug from a child, who was placed back in the arms of his mother as the judgement was granted in our favour. There is no bigger reward than knowing that the little boy was finally going home.

What challenges have you faced as a young female lawyer, and how have you overcome them?
The truth is that here in Nigeria, there is almost a salient belief that “the older the wig, the more capacity they possess”. I’m not disputing this entirely because, for a fact, some lessons come through experience. However; we must also understand that opportunities afford us the chance at gaining those beneficial experiences.
Personally, even in situations where I am undermined because I haven’t had 30/40 years of legal experience, I let my knowledge do the talking. I never respond with fierce debates or heated arguments rather I respond with the value that my knowledge affords me. I respond with the intrinsic instinct that makes me Prada, the instinct that allows me to see what others cannot; my logical and analytical mind.

What are some of the trends or changes you anticipate in the legal industry in the near future?
Globalisation is currently affecting all fields, and the legal industry is not exempt. The impact of the pandemic has shown us the need for technological advancements in the legal industry. From virtual courts to virtual ADR sessions, e-filing, documentation, virtual hearings and more. I know this advancement is not without challenges especially here in Nigeria but it is something to definitely look forward to and expect in our near future.

How can we ensure that diversity and inclusion are made a core part of the Nigerian legal industry?
For starters, the first step will be to not just talk about it but to properly understand the importance of having a diverse legal system.

How far can we really say we have gone to be inclusive when most of our courts are inaccessible to those with mobility impairments? Aside from considering accessibility issues for lawyers, what about the average citizen with a disability that struggles with gaining entrance into courts? Or dealing with Court staff/bailiffs who haven’t had proper training on how to interact with Persons With Disabilities?
A good start would be for organisations like the Nigerian Bar Association need to do more to ensure an inclusive system for all through mass sensitizations, training of staff, accessible buildings, and an inclusive appointment process for judges and legal officers.

What advice do you have for other young women who are considering a career in law?
For young women considering a career in law, I’ll say, Welcome! You are needed.
With new unexplored areas of our global economy, businesses and various sectors in the world, novel problems are surfacing, and a successful 21st-century lawyer would be the one ready with solutions to these problems.
As it is popularly said: “Opportunity favours the prepared”, you must do your best to ensure that new opportunities find you prepared. Do the work and exceed expectations. There is a compulsion that women have to prove themselves over and over again as opposed to their male counterparts. But you don’t have to get sucked into this, stand in your essence and magic. You bring value and that is enough. Take the responsibility of being the solution provider and do not run from the work or competition.

Finally, in honour of International Women’s Day, how do you believe women can continue to break barriers and succeed in the legal industry?
Despite every challenge, women continue to shatter glass ceilings. To continue to do this, women must have an unwavering belief in themselves and their value. Research has shown that having women on legal teams – or on any team really- ultimately results in better representation for clients and more profitability. Recognizing this is the first step. We must continue to show every employer and client that we are valuable to the team. We must not be afraid to assert ourselves. Whenever I am given any opportunity for influence, I take up the task to get more women into the room and make sure they have seats because I believe this is one of the ways we continue to break barriers.